Community Web Version Now Available
Words easy to use wrongly

Would you kindly tell tne what is the difference between a picky and a fussy? 

Both of those words are for description of people character. But seem some times i use it wrong way and people are prone to misunderstand me. 

Feb 24, 2018 12:53 AM
Comments · 4

Here is my very simple explanation:

picky means extremely fussy/choosy/careful/selective/particular/discriminating when you are choosing something, e.g., 

The children are such picky eaters.
Some people are very picky about who they choose to share their lives with.
Big companies can afford to be picky about who they hire.
She's very picky about her clothes.
He's a very picky eater.

fussy means 'anxious or particular about petty details / hard to satisfy or please' - almost the same thing as picky, but it is used in different situations, e.g., 

She is not fussy about her food.
Leonora was fussy about her looks.
All my children were fussy eaters.
Our teacher is very fussy about punctuation.
I am not fussy about what I eat.
A sick person is likely to be fussy about his food.
She used to be so fussy about her appearance.
He's so fussy about the house - everything has to be absolutely perfect.

[picky relates to a person's action and fussy relates to a person personality]

February 24, 2018
For me, it is hard to imagine why people would be prone to misunderstand you if you exchanged those words.  I tried exchanging ¨picky¨ for ¨fussy¨ and vice-versa in Richard´s examples,  and I really do not see much difference, especially between ¨He´s a very picky eater¨ and ¨All my children were fussy eaters.¨  I think only a very picky or very fussy person would criticize you for using the ¨wrong¨ one in any of those!  
February 24, 2018

They are very similar, but in my opinion being ¨fussy¨ is slightly more negative.  ¨Fussy¨ is mostly linked with babies--- babies are ¨fussy¨ when they are not happy.  When you call an adult ¨fussy¨ it implies some negative things about them not being pleasant, not controlling their displays of emotion, and being immature about their complaints.   ¨Picky¨ implies high expectations.  Neither are really positive terms, but someone can be picky while still being more calm and adultlike.

I would not say being a picky or a fussy though.  It is being a ¨picky person¨ or ¨a fussy person.¨   They are adjectives, not nouns.

February 24, 2018
Thank you thank you so much. Now i know why they misunderstood me. As the adjective " fussy" brings such a negative meaning and i myself supposed it with a positive meaning and used it freely until i came across the adjective " picky" then i got confused. Anyway, i understand both of them clearly and can use them selectively without conducting any misunderstanding.
February 24, 2018
Language Skills
English, French, Norwegian, Russian, Vietnamese
Learning Language
English, French, Norwegian, Russian